Tuesday, August 20, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: The Vale Girl

This is a debut? Seriously? The publisher, Pan Macmillan Australia, is passionate about this book and I can see why - it's going to have a great buzz with librarians, booksellers and readers!

Set in Banville, this book was full of Australian characters we can relate to - we know them, we know how they think, and we know how they will act (rightly or wrongly). The story itself is not complex and thankfully didn't develop into something really sinister (for a while I thought we were going down The Lovely Bones path *shudder*).

Sarah Vale is the teenage daughter of the town prostitute. She has gone missing but who really cares about her anyway? We care. And young Tommy cares. (He's in love with her.) Tommy and the local town sergeant go looking for Sarah. And it's in the search we see the town for what it really is, we see the people for who they are, and things slowly unravel so we see them more clearly.

The writing is just beautiful, evocative, reflective, real, compelling. I loved the observations the author has made about small Australian towns, and the way she writes places you there, easily, so you are almost part of the story. You could picture everything clearly and those of us with imagination loved the details she would capture. A real treat, particularly from a debut author.

I found the book intriguing, partly because of the beautiful writing style, and the other because I wanted to know what happened to Sarah. Sarah herself is in the narrative so we get to know her story, what she thinks and feels, but where is she? What's happened to her!? We have to know. Because we find ourselves caring for this girl.

And yes, I still can't believe it's a debut!

Librarians, booksellers and readers you'll want to keep an eye on Nelika McDonald, that's for sure.

ISBN 9781742612423 | Macmillan Australia | August 2013 | Trade Paperback | 310 pages | $29.99  

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